What is Form, and How is it Used?

As with any niche interest or pursuit, there is a long list of terms and phrases used within the world of horse racing that, to any outsider, don’t tend to make even a lick of sense.

From ante-post to yankee, the (seemingly) bizarre vocabulary of the punter can take a fair bit of getting used to, but one of the most obscure areas newcomers often struggle to get to grips with is, of course, the pesky business of form – namely, understanding how it can help and, more importantly, understanding how to use it to help you to make the right (and most lucrative) choices.

A quick glance at a horse’s form won’t tell you much – unless, of course, you’re a seasoned expert fresh out of the most prestigious races in England. In that case, it will tell you just about everything you need to know to make your choices and cast your bets for the day’s races.

So, if you’re wondering how on earth you can begin to develop that third eye that seems to make seasoned punters so quick to judge a horse’s form, read more about form and understanding it below.

What Does ‘Form’ Mean?

Whether you visit a real world bookkeepers in person, or the casino online, making your choices means that you need to be able to process as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. Unless you are making an ante-post bet, the chances are that you don’t have a huge amount of time at your disposal to read through paragraphs of information about each entrant.

This is where form comes it. It effectively allows the bookies to condense a great welter of information into a small, easily digested sequence of data – and being concise is the best way to ensure that we remember the information we need to remember.

How do You Understand Form?

If you look at a form card, you will see a series of numbers. From left to right, these numbers each represent a race, with the number on the far right representing the most recent, and vice versa.

If the number reads as, say, a three for any given race then you can understand that, in that race, the horse finished third. These numbers will run from one to nine – a zero means that the horse finished outside of the top nine.

You will also see a number of abbreviations, which are explained here. The most important of these abbreviations tends to be F, for ‘fell’, R for ‘refused’, and U for ‘unseated’.

In this way, you can use the form to refresh your memory on a horse’s most recent performances, or to gain a rapid overview of a horse you have not been following thus far.

Form is deceptive, only in that it looks a great deal more confusing than it really is. In actual fact, as soon as you understand what its purpose is within the world of racing, and why the numbers are so central to betters and bookkeepers, you will find it to be an incredibly valuable tool at your next race. Practice reading the form, and it won’t take long before it becomes second nature.